A good friend of mine owns some property about 250 kilometers from our home city. She doesn’t drive so I thought a day trip to see her property would be a great way to spend this fine summer day, and off we went on our little adventure. We left early, about seven thirty am, and drove east to a spot called Prince Edward County, known to the locals simply as the County. It’s located at the eastern end of Lake Ontario and just west of the head of the St. Lawrence River, spectacular! It is an island of about a thousand square kilometers with about 500 kilometers of beachfront including a popular tourist site appropriately called Sandbanks, named for its gorgeous sandy shoreline. This area is home to the world’s largest freshwater sand dunes. We visited the more southern piece that faces Lake Ontario. Much of this part has rocky beaches and a lot of brush but a little bit inland are lush rolling fields and farmland. Because we were about to hike through some bush, my friend and I rolled down our pantlegs, tucked them into our socks and put on walking shoes. We also wore longsleeved shirts. A little warm, yes, but we had to protect against ticks that carry Lyme disease. Whether those tiny insects have made it to the County or not, I don’t know, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.
So we made our way to the rocky shore, I have an affinity for water and could have sat and watched the small waves lapping up to smooth the stones for ages. Just about all the rocks were nicely rounded, perfect skipping stones. Most were your garden variety rock with a few sandstone and granite stones there to add interest. Mother Nature sure knows how to decorate with colour and texture rivalling any designer. We found a little crab skeleton and then stopped by a small pool to watch tadpoles swimming about, so peaceful. (big sigh) Interestingly the firs that abound are mostly juniper and there is a lot of deciduous growth as well. I think a trip back in the fall to enjoy the autumn colours is definitely in order.
The area is known for its produce, particularly organic produce and thanks to an interesting microclimate, has become well known for its fifty vineyards and about thirty wineries. It is now a designated viticultural area supported by tourists and wine lovers from far and wide. We made a stop at one of those wineries, where the owners give tours and tastings. It’s also well known for locally produced cheese from the Black River Cheese Company. Every year the community and tourists gather for the Great Canadian Cheese Festival. The County also boasts that it is a community of artists and local chefs.
Because it is a wonderful, organic fruit and vegetable producing area, we felt our visit wouldn’t be complete without a stop at a farmer’s sales stand where raspberries, blueberries, zucchini varieties, potatoes,beets and so many other fruits and vegetables were available. Since I love my fruits and veggies and you can’t beat the flavour of organic produce, we did stock up a bit. Then it was on to a great little spot for lunch. I enjoyed a prime rib sandwich topped with the absolutely best tomato I’ve ever eaten and my friend had smoked salmon with cream cheese. Both our sandwiches were on homemade bread and accompanied by a salad made with locally grown veggies, really, really good. The owner was very hospitable and wouldn’t you know it, we both hail from the same part of the country, sixteen hundred kilometers away. It really is a small world!
We didn’t have time to do the eastern part of the island, so I would say this side trip should be more of a weekend getaway rather than a day trip. Visiting this fertile island should be at the top of anyone’s “staycation” plans or a spot to show visiting family and friends.